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Rick Remender’s Run on Secret Avengers – Avengers vs. X-Men (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Thor: The Dark World towards the end of next month, we’ll be looking at some Thor and Avenger-related comics throughout September. Check back weekly for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Secret Avengers manages one of the strongest tie-ins to Avengers vs. X-Men. I will confess that I am not normally a fan of comic book event tie-ins. They tend to distract from on-going narratives crafted by long-term writers in order to assure a cynical short-term sales boost. At worst, they can feel like vacuous filler, comics full of nonsense that are impossible to decipher unless you’re reading the giant crossover of the month. Both Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man lost a lot of momentum thanks to crossovers.

On the other hand, I’ll concede that good writers can shrewdly use crossovers to tell their own stories. Perhaps the most obvious example is Alan Moore’s wonderful Swamp Thing tie-in to Crisis on Infinite Earths – stories that can be read (and be quite entertaining) on their own terms, without requiring the reader to constantly flick back or forth. Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men tie-in to Avengers vs. X-Men manages to retain its own identity and tell its own story, and Rick Remender’s Secret Avengers makes a valiant attempt.

Into the fire...

Into the fire…

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X-Men by Jim Lee and Chris Claremont (and Marc Silvestri) Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

If the nineties could be said to belong to any particular comic book franchise, they belonged to the X-Men. Marvel has done a great job collecting classic X-Men storylines in oversized hardcover, already having more than half of Chris Claremont’s very long run available in the format. Reading his work collected here, I find myself frequently conflicted – I can’t decide whether the writer was one of the best long-form storytellers in the medium, or whether he was writing by the seat of his pants. A lot of the threads he ties together might not wrap up satisfactory, but his overarching stories suggest an incredible amount of planning. As the author led the Uncanny X-Men into the nineties, the title seems almost in chaos, but the most carefully organised chaos imaginable.

We all have our crosses to bear…

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X-Men: Inferno – Excalibur (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

This weekend, we’re taking a look at one or two of the smaller Inferno crossovers. These issues are collected in the crossovers companion book.

It’s actually quite impressive to think of the mythology-building that Chris Claremont was responsible during his incredible run on Uncanny X-Men. The X-Men had, of course, been confined to reprints for years before Len Wein revived the concept in Giant-Sized X-Men #1, but Claremont guided Marvel’s merry mutants to the heights of success. I think it’s entirely appropriate that the first issue in his last arc, X-Men #1, remains the biggest-selling comic book of all time – cementing Claremont’s impact.

Even though many people would argue the X-Men only really exploded during the speculation bubble of the nineties, it’s remarkable just how much Claremont and his collaborators were expanding the line. By the end of the eighties, Uncanny X-Men had accumulated several satellite books. Of those, Claremont had the pleasure of working with renowned artist Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants, while Excalibur paired the scribe with Alan Davis, one of the most respected artists in the business.

What possessed them to come to New York?

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